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Old 10-30-2007, 05:35 AM   #1
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Just getting started

Hi everyone. Sorry for the long intro. I've been doing a little lurking here and in other online forums and thought it was time to join. I live in northern New Jersey and have a commute of about 16 miles round trip completely in town (25-35 MPH).

During the warm part of the year I ride my bicycle as often as the weather and my schedule allow which usually works out to 2 or 3 times per week. When I'm not riding, I drive a 2002 Subaru Impreza 2.5 RS sedan. I enjoy it a lot, but as with other Subarus it's a little bit hungry.

I guess you could say that biking to work has kind of changed how I think about commuting. Seems like I'm swatting flies with a hammer, and I've actually considered down-sizing a bit (well, OK, I've been searching Craigsligt for a used Metro Geo Cart.) However, I think that it makes more sense to keep the Subaru and enjoy it, since it is reliable and paid for. Plus it's a hoot to drive.

The bad:
-weight: at 2800, it's the lightest Subaru sold in America, but the heaviest car I've owned (if you don't include the Colt Vista I owned *shudder*)
-tires: wide and pricey. Nice grip, though.
-AWD: ample traction, but more friction. 5-speed manual means that AWD system is full time viscous diff. No fuses to pull here to get 2WD.
-gearing: well suited for acceleration and slogging through snow, but I assume it will ultimately limit highway mileage gains. Axle ratios are 4.11:1.

The good:
-torque: the 2.5 naturally aspirated engine has good grunt for a 4 cylinder. It's quite happy up-shifting around 1500 to 1700 under normal acceleration.
-5-Speed Manual: it's not easy to find an AWD car with a clutch pedal these days.
-um, that's all I got.

My FE was about 18-20 MPG in town when I first started driving the car. As the engine got more worn in and I realized that it doesn't need the kind of revs that my '92 Civic EX did, average mileage improved by about 2 MPG. I've been fiddling with high tire pressures, doing some coasting in neutral, keeping the throttle closed and the revs low. Coasting in neutral seems to help at high speed, as 65 MPH makes the motor buzz at about 3000-3500 RPM. It has less affect in town, where I can keep the engine spinning much more slowly. Right now I'm averaging 22-23 MPG in town, which is about 10% better than its EPA ratings as I recall. There's definitely room for improvement, though. Also keep in mind that this is New Jersey, where there's a zero tolerance policy on the roads for slow and lazy. See you around the forums.
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Old 10-30-2007, 05:49 AM   #2
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Welcome to the site! Coolness on the biking already, what kinda bike do you ride?
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Old 10-30-2007, 06:48 AM   #3
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my bike

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Welcome to the site! Coolness on the biking already, what kinda bike do you ride?
I used to ride a lot of singletrack, so I have a mountain bike. It's an old skool steel Gary Fisher "Hoo Koo E Koo". It's set up mostly with mostly LX drivetrain bits (8-speed, like I said old skool), matrix swami wheel set (a take off from some guy who bought a high end Trek at my local bike shop, but wanted to upgrade to some kind of deep-V nonsense.) Hydraulic rim brakes (love my Maguras) and flat bars with full bar ends. On dirt, I ride Panaracer Fire XC Pro tires. They're light, fast, grip well and not front/rear specific. What's not to like? Oh, and they're red. On the road, I use some 1.25" slicks. The smaller diameter means I run out of gears, but I'd rather buy another bike than degrade offroad performance.

Did I mention not to get me started on mountain bikes?
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Old 10-30-2007, 06:49 AM   #4
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Welcome!

Subarus are good torquey 4 cylinders, so if you manage to keep the RPMs down when shifting, that will probably go the longest way in getting better MPG. You may also want to think about installing some temporary aero mods (or some more permanent ones underneath the car) to see if that will help you.

Good luck with the impreza!
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Old 11-04-2007, 01:40 AM   #5
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cafn8 -

Welcome to GS! The AWD subys are tough nuts to crack, but you're summer biking system is great. I was gonna suggest "pull a fuse", but you already culled that information. I like to say that in LA there is a "herd mentality" that allows me to drive slower, but I have to be strategic about it. When I drove in Jersey, the trucks scared me the most.

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Old 11-04-2007, 04:31 AM   #6
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nuts!

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Welcome to GS! The AWD subys are tough nuts to crack
No kidding! Yesterday I drove from north Jersey to northwest Ohio. I was on a mission to break 30 highway MPG. I pumped the tires way up, removed the bike rack and left home with about 40 or 50 conservative town miles on the tank. I coasted down hills and did as much semi-surfing as I felt comfortable with and even lowered my top speed from the 70-75 that everyone else was traveling to 65. When I filled up just west of the Poconos all I could show was about 27.6. That's half a mile better than EPA. I suppose I shouldn't expect to be a hero going through the mountains, though. The tank I'm working on now from the flats of western PA and Ohio is looking better by a bit. I'll see what happens when I refill.

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When I drove in Jersey, the trucks scared me the most.
They are intimidating. I find that riding my bicycle in traffic has had a de-sensitizing effect, though.
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